BAGHDAD -- Hands are wrapped, gloves are taped and headgear is secured. They hear their name called over the loud speaker; there is no turning back, no more time to train. It is time to put everything together, step into the ring to fight and hope to come out on top.

Service members from around United States Division - Center put their courage, training and discipline to the test Oct. 9 during the Boxing Smoker 2, hosted by Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division, USD-C at the field house at Camp Liberty, Iraq.

"Boxing (in an amateur event) is a very shocking experience-going into the ring (to fight) and hearing the audience for the first time," said Capt. James Battle, an aviation liaison officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, USD-C, and a Newport News, Va. native. "Just the atmosphere altogether gets the adrenaline pumping. It's a big sensory overload going into the ring for the first time."

More than 100 service members and civilians came out to see the 20 amateur boxing matches, ranging all the way from super-lightweight to heavyweight divisions. The competitors came from a variety of bases throughout the USD - C area of operations, including Camp Slayer, Camp Cropper and Camp Victory.

In order for competitors to participate in the smoker, they went through a medical screening, were weighed and matched with an opponent of similar skills and trained for weeks, and in some cases, months.

For Staff Sgt. Nicholas Teitjens, putting his skills to the test for the first time was nerve-racking, having only trained for about three weeks.

"I was pretty nervous leading up to the fight," said Teitjens, with the 146th Signal Company, 1st Armd., Div., USD-C, and an Omaha, Neb. native. "I wasn't sure who I was fighting. I didn't know his name or what he looked like until I met him in the ring (to fight). (But) for the little bit I have trained, I think my fight went well."

Teitjens and Battle both agree cardio training for cardio respiratory endurance is essential to winning a fight.

"Having the cardio to keep going all three rounds is one of the most important components to winning a fight," Teitjens said. "Cardio is a deciding factor of who wins rounds two and three. To be a good fighter, it takes a lot of practice. Anyone can become a winner depending on how hard they train and how much time they devote to boxing."

Battle said boxing is not just two people in the ring punching each other. Strategy is involved.

"The bottom line is the other guy is punching you and busting you across the face," Battle said. "Success comes from putting everything from training together, the physical fitness portion, mental toughness, cardio, learning different combinations of punches and reading an opponent and the ring.

"The military way of life-that discipline, the physical fitness, learning to be a professional and not let emotions overcome (the individual)-are components to mental toughness," Battle said. "Army Values are a foundation, but the military way of life, in general, is what makes a successful boxer."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16